Chile Gets Its First Public Museum of Contemporary Art

Chile seeks its spot on the Latin American art scene.

The National Centre for Contemporary Art Chile. Courtesy the museum.
The National Centre for Contemporary Art Chile. Courtesy the museum.

Chile is about to launch its first-ever state-run contemporary art institution, the National Centre for Contemporary Art Chile.

The new museum, located on the site of the former Los Cerillos Airport that was active between 1929 and 2006, has been entirely funded by the Chilean government to host its growing contemporary art collection, without a permanent home until now.

The grounds where the airport stands were donated to the Chilean government by the American philanthropist Daniel Guggenheim in 1928, with the airport that was inaugurated the following year seen as a symbol of democratization and modernization. The building was transferred to the National Council of Culture and Arts Chile earlier this year.

Installation shot of exhibition at the National Centre for Contemporary Art Chile. Courtesy the museum.

Installation shot of exhibition at the National Centre for Contemporary Art Chile. Courtesy the museum.

The center had a “soft-opening” on September 29, with an exhibition curated by Chilean artist Camilo Yañez, featuring artists including Gonzalo Díaz, Paz Errázuriz, Eugenio Dittborn, Iván Navarro, and Cecilia Vicuña, with works created in the last 50 years.

Interestingly, though, the museum doesn’t have a visible leader just yet. Its first director will be announced in early 2017, with the official opening scheduled for March 2017.

“This is an important new space for Chile, a modernist building dedicated to strengthening conservation policies, research, archival work, and the display of contemporary Chilean and Latin American visual art,” Ernesto Ottone, Minister President of the National Council for Culture and the Arts Chile, said in a statement.

Installation shot of exhibition at the National Centre for Contemporary Art Chile. Courtesy the museum.

Installation shot of exhibition at the National Centre for Contemporary Art Chile. Courtesy the museum.

The government runs a number of museums in the country already, most notably the Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts, National Museum of Natural History, and National Historic Museum. The opening of this first public museum of contemporary art could signal a new focus on contemporary Chilean art, and a new phase in the country’s cultural policies at large.

At a moment when Latin American art and art markets are increasingly relevant on the international scene, Chile seems decided to find a place in the spotlight.


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